County approves lead paint remediation

Seal of Los Angeles County.

A $134 million program to combat further lead exposure through lead paint in Los Angeles County was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday to begin in early 2020. 

The Lead Paint Hazard Mitigation Program was recommended for approval by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger, who represents the county’s 5th District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley. 

Los Angeles County was awarded a $134 million settlement in a legal victory against three former manufacturers of lead paint. A total of $305 million was awarded and split between the county and nine other local entities, the county agenda report says. 

“We will start receiving money in fall, about $20 million a year for seven years,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of Public Health. “The program is eight years.” 

Lead paint exposure is a long-lasting public health epidemic in California, the agenda report said, and the Lead Paint Hazard Mitigation Program will work to educate others on the effects of lead paint and work to eliminate lead paint hazards from inside the homes of young children and pregnant women. 

The program will focus on vulnerable populations. That includes homes and apartments made before 1951, said Ferrer.  

Whether houses and apartments in the SCV would qualify for the program was not immediately announced.

About 75% of the funds will be for remediation while the rest will be for community outreach and enrollment, workforce development and training, testing, and program management and enforcement, according to Ferrer.  On average, remediation costs will be about $10,000 to $25,000 per single-family residence. 

According to the report, lead exposure causes irreversible brain damage, and is most likely to affect children because they spend most of their time in homes and participate in hand-to-mouth behavior. “[Lead is] especially dangerous for unborn children and children under age 6, because their rapidly developing bodies absorb more lead,” says a county Public Health Department news release. 

In addition, Barger added that there are children who are infected even if they do not live in a home with lead paint. They could be infected by a daycare or home they visit.  

“Don’t assume it is just where you are living,” said Barger. “We should also coordinate with L.A. Care.” 

L.A. Care provides healthcare for low-income and vulnerable residents of the county. The Department of Public Health and the Los Angeles County Development Authority will work together to implement the program in the county.  

“All of our children deserve to live in homes and communities that are free from environmental hazards,” said Ferrer. “The proposed program is critically needed to ensure that low-income families with young children can live in housing free from lead paint hazards.”

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